Ramazzini; Blog on work and health by Annet Lenderink

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Gas from freight containers risk to harbour employees

Residues of pesticide fumigants and toxic industrial chemicals in freight containers represent a health hazard to employees and consumers, especially since freight containers are sealed for transport and distributed widely throughout the importing countries before being opened for unloading.

We investigated 2113 freight containers arriving at the second largest container terminal in Europe, Hamburg, Germany, over a 10-week period in 2006. The countries of origin, type of contents and the pesticide fumigation history declared on labels attached to the container were recorded.

We determined that 1478 (70%) containers were contaminated with toxic chemicals above chronic reference exposure levels; 761 (36%) even exceeded the higher acute reference exposure level thresholds. Benzene and/or formaldehyde contamination was 4-times greater than for fumigants.

Our findings indicate a health risk for dockworkers, container unloaders and even end-consumers, especially as many of the cancerogenic or toxic gases elude subjective detection.

High frequency of fumigants and other toxic gases in imported freight containers—an underestimated occupational and community health risk
Xaver Baur, Bernd Poschadel, Lygia Therese Budnik
Occup Environ Med 2010;67:207-212

Filed under: Accidents, Chemical agents, Occupational exposure, ,

Dangerous oxygen depletion risk in transportation of wood

There are several articles on the risks that can occur during the transportation of timber. My colleague Gert van der Laan published a article in Dutch on our website, from which I quote here:

Oxygen Deficit fatal in bulk transportation of timber

“In two years time occurred in Swedish ports five fatal cases and several incidents during the unloading of bulk carriers to blocks and wood chips / wood logs. In all cases, the victims descended into stairwells in the vessels directly connected to the bulk space stood. On 10 ships there were more than forty different measurements taken at different times. The average oxygen level was 10%, but in 17% of the measurements showed the oxygen level decreased to 0%! Although during the winter the oxygen reduction was less pronounced, even then there was an incident with fatalities for. there were on average 46 hours between loading and unloading and although there were different woods, the microbiological activity was highest in samples of fresh wood chips and bark. The conclusion is that transport of timber in confined spaces can cause severe hypoxia and CO2 formation can occur.”

Relevant articles:
Oxygen depletion and formation of toxic gases following sea tranportation of logs and wood chips
Svedberg U, Petrini C, Johanson G.
Ann. Occup. Hyg. 53; 799-787, 2009

Rate and Peak Concentrations of Off-Gas Emissions in Stored Wood Pellets—Sensitivities to Temperature, Relative Humidity, and Headspace Volume
Xingya Kuang, Tumuluru Jaya Shankar1, Xiaotao T. Bi1, C. Jim Lim1, Shahab Sokhansanj and Staffan Melin
Annals of Occupational Hygiene 2009 53(8):789-796; doi:10.1093/annhyg/mep049

Emission of Volatile Aldehydes and Ketones from Wood Pellets under Controlled Conditions
Mehrdad Arshadi, Paul Geladi, Rolf Gref and Pär Fjällström
Annals of Occupational Hygiene 2009 53(8):797-805; doi:10.1093/annhyg/mep058

Filed under: Accidents, Chemical agents, Occupational exposure, ,

Hand lacerations important health risk in commercial fishermen

In this study 210 fishermen were interviewed. Over their careers, 56 subjects (27%) had been returned to shore as an emergency for medical reasons. Most emergency evacuations were for acute injuries, and only 5 were for illness. Fifty-five fishermen had suffered injuries in the past year, including 12 that had caused loss of more than 3 days from work. Subjects15 reported 15 hand lacerations, of which 4 were self-stitched, while others had been bound with ‘gaffer’ tape.  The researchers conclude that prevention of hand lacerations should be a high priority, with first-aid training and equipment for fishing crews to improve their care when prevention fails.

Occupational health needs of commercial fishermen in South West England
Grimsmo-Powney, H., Harris, E. C., Reading, I., Coggon, D. 
Occupational Medicine 2010 60(1):49-53; doi:10.1093/occmed/kqp137 Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Accidents, Occupational exposure, Occupational medicine, , ,

Be safe in the lab, sing a song!

Working safely in a laboratory is important. It is stressed in a funny way in this video made by alumni of the University in Berkely, California USA.

A musical extravaganza on the importance and execution of laboratory safety. See more at http://www.TheSoundsOfScien…

Filed under: Accidents, Chemical agents, Fun, , ,

Injury patterns in road cycling events

[picapp src=”f/0/a/1/Vattenfall_Cyclassics_9044.jpg?adImageId=5422178&imageId=2635528″ width=”500″ height=”331″ /]

Study undertaken during the races in Hamburg UCI ProTour Cyclassics in 2006 among professional cyclists (182) and recreational participants cycling 55, 100 or 155 km looking at injury patterns. A total of 193 injuries in 70 participants were registred, mainly localized at extremities (94.4%, mainly shoulder girdle). Ten percent suffered serious injury, significantly more frequent in women than in men. 84.4% of the accidents occurred in groups. The mean speed at the time of the crash was 37.3 km/h (range: 0-57). The researchers conclude that accidents were more likely to occur in inexperienced drivers, in the shortest distance, with straight conditions and in well-known dangerous areas.

Acute injuries in road bicycle racing. Injury surveillance at the Hamburg UCI ProTour”Cyclassics” 2006
Ueblacker P, Rathmann W, Rueger JM, Püschel K.
Unfallchirurg. 2008 Jun;111(6):414-20. German Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Accidents, No category, ,

Foreign-born workers more at risk for occupational injuries

Hispanic and foreign-born workers suffer high rates of occupational fatality. Reasons for this are not well understood. Eight years of data were obtained from an urban trauma center. Hispanics were more highly represented than expected; their number of injuries steadily rose. Hispanics were more likely to be injured by machinery and hand tools. Workers reported hazardous working conditions, lack of workers compensation, short time in current employment, and not working in their usual job.

Traumatic occupational injuries in Hispanic and foreign born workers
Linda Forst, MD, MPH , Susan Avila, BSN, MPH , Stella Anozie, MD, MPH, Rachel Rubin, MD, MPH
American Journal of Industrial Medicine, published online: 14 Sep 2009 Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Accidents, Occupational injury

Temporary agency employed workers more at risk

The purpose of this study was to compare the workers’ compensation experience of a large cohort of temporary agency employed workers with those in standard forms of employment. Washington State Fund workers’ compensation data were obtained for claims with injury dates from January 1, 2003 to June 30, 2006, resulting in 342,540 accepted claims. It turns out that temporary agency employed workers have higher claims incidence rates than those in standard employment arrangements. The rate ratios are twofold higher in the construction and manufacturing industry sectors.

Temporary workers in Washington State

Caroline K. Smith, MPH *, Barbara A. Silverstein, PhD, MPH, CPE, David K. Bonauto, MD, MPH, Darrin Adams, BS, Z. Joyce Fan, PhD

American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Early View (Articles online in advance of print)Published Online: 17 Jul 2009 Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Accidents, Occupational injury,

Veterinarians suffer many work-related injuries

hondA high injury prevalence has been reported among veterinarians. In this study graduates in veterinary medicine from Australian universities completed questionnaires asking about injuries during their professional career.

Injuries were most frequently sustained on farms (55%) and associated with undertaking procedural activities (37%) and examining and moving animals (37%). The most frequent injuries sustained were open wounds (36%), fractures and dislocations (27%) and soft tissue bruising (12%). There were 63 reports of intracranial injury and 19 traumatic amputations reported. 

The major factors reported in association with injury were cattle (22%), horses (21%), dogs (20%) and cats (8%). Fifty-five per cent of veterinarians reported the use of safety precautions at the time of injury.

Lucas M., Day L., Shirangi A., Fritschi L.
Significant injuries in Australian veterinarians and use of safety precautions Occupational Medicine 2009 59(5):327-333

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Accidents, Occupational injury

Risks of accidental human injection of veterinary antibiotics or vaccines

Accidental human injection of Excenel RTU: ceftiofur hydrochloride in cottonseed oil

Gwynne-Jones,D.; Lyall,P.; Hung,N.A.; Meikle,G.
Clinical Toxicology, Vol. 46, Issue 9 (Nov 2008), 908 – 910

Veterinary antibiotics in suspensions of vegetable oil such as cottonseed oil are in common use around the world. There are several reports of accidental human inoculation of oil-based veterinary vaccines that have required surgical debridement.

CASE REPORT: A 35 year old farmer injected an unknown quantity of Excenel RTU into her right thigh. Despite early debridement she developed a deep infection and recurrent chronic inflammation in the subcutaneous tissues and muscle secondary to the cottonseed oil suspension. Radical debridement and extensive split skin grafting was required but she still has had recurrences 12 months after injury.

DISCUSSION: Prompt surgical debridement should be performed as in cases of oil based veterinary vaccines. Despite being an antibiotic there is a significant risk of infection from a dirty needle following inoculation and multiple cultures should be taken and appropriate broad spectrum antibiotics used.

Filed under: Accidents

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Annet Lenderink

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